Alumni Bible Study

A Bible study initially set up for alumni of the Senior Sunday School Class at the First United Methodist Church of Lufkin, Texas. It is our hope and our prayer that this study touches the hearts of those who participate and helps spread the love and grace of Our Lord and God. All who want to learn more about God are welcome

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Location: lufkin, Texas, United States

I am a Christian family man, Lay Pastor and writer from Deep East Texas. I love life, and I enjoy working with young people. I have published two books; "A Small Mind Among Tall Trees" and "God If You Are Not Too Busy, Can You Give Me a Hand". If you want to obtain a copy drop me an e-mail or go to or barnesand . I have been a salesman, cowman and athlete in my past. I still have a strong sense of humor and am not afraid to use it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jonah 2:1-10

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go- Fight-Win. Amen.
Jonah's Prayer
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave [
a] I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
4 I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, [
b] the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.
7 "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
When you spend a little time in the belly of a fish, you get to reflect. Read Jonah’s prayer again. This is a prayer of thanksgiving. The amazing thing is that when Jonah was popular and really walking with God, he turned away and ran. After he has hit the bottom, instead of being depressed, he rejoices.
We do the same. When things are really going smooth we tend to take our relationship with God for granted. It is only after catastrophe strikes that we reach out for God. The highs and lows that this relationship creates are difficult for all Christians. A constant obedience with God frees us to do his work, so why can’t we live that way?
Jonah is not bitter. It takes a lot of bad things to bring Jonah around to Gods wishes. What if God had not brought the bad things on, then Jonah would have run from his God forever, and neither would have profited. Same with us. We learn from our mistakes, (hopefully) and that it how we grow in our spiritual life. When things are not going good, give thanks, for we might be able to use these obstacles to strengthen our relationship with God.
Prayer- Lord, Thanks for giving us all the good times, and thanks for giving us opportunities to grow. Go- Fight- Win. Amen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jonah 1:11-17

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our heart and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"
12 "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased." 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah tried to run from God until the lot fell upon him, and then he took responsibility. He showed more compassion to the pagan crew than he did for the people of Nineveh. He was will to surrender his life to save the crew.
The pagan crew is one of my favorite characters in this story. When Jonah tells them to throw him overboard to save themselves, they instead work even harder to save all. Then they begged for forgiveness for killing an innocent man, (Jonah,) and when the sea calmed down after they threw Jonah over, they worshiped God and offered sacrifices to Him. This was more than the people of Israel were willing to do at this time. They believed.
Was Jonah really swallowed by a great fish? Or was this just a wild tale? I do not know, nor do I care. Could God save Jonah in such a fashion? I really believe he can do anything. This is part of my faith. It is not important to me if God has really done anything, because I know that anything is possible through God. A man living for three days in a fishes belly, (note the time reference,) that is nothing compared to saving the entire world with the sacrifice of His Son. Do not get caught in a discussion of God doing small things. If people can not accept Jonah and the fish, move on. The important acceptance is Jesus in their hearts.
Prayer- Lord, I know that there is nothing too big for you to take care of. Thank you for still doing miracles today. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do- Think about the miracles you have seen God do today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jonah 1:4-10

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our heart and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish."
7 Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
8 So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"
9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."
10 This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)
Jonah wants to run away from God, because God wants Jonah to do something that makes Jonah "uncomfortable." As Jonah is fleeing, bad things come. A huge storm comes and it is so violent it causes a seasoned crew of sailors to become scared. The storm was so bad the crew threw the cargo overboard to try and save the ship.
Jonah was sleeping through the storm, (clean mind?) As the sailors were crying out to their gods,(little "g") they went below deck and woke up Jonah, so that he could do the same. They cast lots- gambled- to see whose fault the storm was, the see who had mad their god angry. Of course, the lots fell on Jonah.
At least when he was confronted, Jonah admitted that he worshiped the real God. The crew wanted tom know what had Jonah done to raise such wrath from God. We still do this. When things don’t go as planned, we question God. Why would he allow bad things to happen to us? When bad things happen to our friends, we wonder "what did they do to get outside of God’s Love?"
The Lord created the earth and sea. Sometimes he is trying to get our attention, like he is trying to get Jonah’s. Sometimes things just happen. Is God trying to get your attention? What are you going to do about it?
Prayer- Lord, Thank you for being there when times are good. But most of all, thanks for being there when times are stormy. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jonah 1:1-3

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Jonah Flees From the LORD
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Back ground please! Jonah was a prophet, (ooh-ooh) just as the Veggie tales song goes. He is mentioned in other books of the Bible, (2Kings 14:25) and was a prophet of the Lord. God had plans for Jonah. He told him to go to Nineveh, the major city of Assyria, and tell them to repent. Jonah decided to run away instead. Now for the geography lesson: Nineveh was500 miles North East of Jerusalem,(Jonah’s home.) That was a very long way. When Jonah decided to flee, he wanted to go to Tarshish, a place in present day Spain. The end of the world, in the opposite direction. When Jonah fled, he did it in a big way.
Why would Jonah flee? First; the Assyrians were tough, mean, aggressive, and had conquered Israel. Jonah’s people hated and feared them. Jonah knew that if he did what the Lord wanted, he would be brutally killed-or worse! Furthermore, Jonah did not believe the Ninevites were worthy of God love. They were evil, they were mean to Jonah’s peep’s, why should he even give them a chance to be saved. Jonah had an ego, he knew he could do great things, he just did not want to do great things to his enemies.
Do we run from God? Do we resist sharing God’s love with our enemies? Are we just like Jonah? You bet! We all try to hide from God from time to time. As we read more we will find out how that works out.
Prayer- God, give me the confidence to do what you ask of me, and the wisdom to remember that you are everywhere. Go Fight-Win Amen.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Galatians 6:11-18

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight- Win. Amen.
11See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[
a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
17Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Paul wants to emphasize this last part of the letter, the last greeting, so he wrote it BIG. We have all been set free from sin by Christ-and Christ alone,(grace.) The world is full of sin, and some looks pretty enticing. We must ask God to remove these enticements from our lives daily.
The Judaizers thought that by law we become holy. The big problem was they emphasized part of the Jewish law and ignored the rest. We can act in similar fashion. We may not tolerate stealing but ignore prejudice. The rules set up for us and others are for all to folow, we can not pick and choose.
It is easy to get caght up in what is right and what is not. Beware those who emphasize outward actions instead of the condition of our heart. This is a very shallow view on life. God cares about what is inside, not outside. How much do we care about what the world thinks of us? If we believe in Jesus, we have been set free from what the world thinks. Will you use this freedom to serve God? Or, will you be enslaved by worldly actions?
Prayer- Lord- Thank you for giving us our freedom. Help us stay free to serve you, and help us resist temptation that the world uses to enslave us. Go-Fight- Win. Amen.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Galatians 6:7-10

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature[

]will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Let’s look at Paul’s words logically. If we plant corn, do we expect to have cotton grow. Even those of you without an agrarian background should know this. If you live a life to receive earthly rewards, when you leave the earth,(die) you will have nothing! If you live a life for heavenly rewards, then in heaven you will receive them. That is exciting.
We , as humans, have a need to have our actions reinforced. We need praise for good things and scorn for bad. Paul is telling us not to give up doing good, even if we do not get immediate praise. Our reward will be in heaven.
Prayer- Lord, give me strength to continue to do Your work. Even if others will not praise my actions. Your praise is all I want and need. Go-Fight- Win. Amen.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Galatians 6:1-6

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Doing Good to All
1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Human beings are by nature a social animal. We need other people! Often, we think we can change the world by ourselves, only to find the world changes us! This is where the church is so important. We are called to help each other; to strengthen each other, teach and share the burdens of life. No man is an island. The true power of the Holy Spirit comes when we all work together.
Look at the last verse again. Paul is telling you to share with your instructor. I do consider myself an instructor so.... Trust me, I do not know all of the answers. So I am looking for truth and clarification from the best and brightest. In other words- I want to hear from you.
Prayer- Lord, give me the strength needed to do your work, and the wisdom to remember I can not do it alone. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Galatians 5:22-26

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are by-products of a life with God. These are the way the Holy Spirit acts through each of us. Only Christ can give these to us, we can not just go get them. You must know Christ, love Him, remember Him and live your lives like Him. When you do, you fulfill the intended purpose of the law, to love God and your neighbors as well as yourself.
In order to live in the Spirit and accept the fruits of the Spirit, we must throw away our sins, Paul says to "crucify" them, nail them away from you until they die. This does not mean that we will never be tempted by evil, we will always have the capacity and ability to sin. We have been liberated from sin’s power by the Spirit, so we do not have to give in. We need to use the superior strength of the Spirit to overcome our sinful nature, calling on that power daily.
God wants all of our lives, not just our spiritual life. I ask Ben and Grider every morning if they are ready mentally as well as physically, spiritually as well as emotionally. This is how we live our lives. Our intellectual lives, how we use our mind and imagination is just as important as how we use our body. Beware, God does not want us to always be looking for praise and approval. Are we acting out of love or conceit. I used to have a slogan "I’m too cool to be conceited!" I said it in jest, (usually,) but many of us live our lives that way. Glory comes from God, not constant approval from ourselves.
Prayer- Lord, Help the fruits of Your Spirit grow and prosper in me. Let me show them through out the world for you. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Homework- Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to produce in you?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Galatians 5:16-21

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul say’s there are two forces living within us; The Holy Spirit that helps us do good, and our evil sinful nature. Our sinful nature is strong, we are all tempted to do these things Paul talks about. We are enticed by our friends to do these things, and if we rely on our wisdom and knowledge, we are likely to make bad decisions.
Here is the Good News; The Holy Spirit is very strong- stronger than our sinful nature. If we rely on The Spirit, we can turn away from these evil deeds and drive them from our lives. Remember the words of that great theological song- "Jesus Loves Me,"
We are weak but He is Strong!
Prayer- Lord, Send me your spirit to keep me strong. Help me use Your wisdom in making the correct decisions. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Galatians 5:7-15

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go Fight-Win. Amen.
7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[
a]; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."[b] 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Paul insists that he is being persecuted because he is preaching the truth. If he was preaching falsely, who would be offended? This is an excellent point. Usually, we don’t get mad at someone unless what they say bites us. As Hoodie Bauchman said, "if you can’t say amen, you have to say ouch!" If you are being persecuted for standing up for what is right- you will always be in good company in heaven.
We are all free. Free to love, but also free to sin, and this can be a double edged sword. Remember- sin enslaves us. God frees us. Easy to say, but harder to live by. Surround yourselves with loving friends. Friends who both love you and love Jesus. Love your neighbor as you want to be loved, and all will get easier.
Prayer- Lord, help me love my neighbors, and love me more than I love them. Give me the strength to seek freedom from sin, and the wisdom to follow Your works.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Galatians 5:1-6

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Freedom in Christ
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

True freedom in Christ comes from our relationships with Christ and each other, not our obeying of laws. Paul is kind of clear on this, he has been throughout the letter. Christ is of no value if all you have to do is keep the law, and of course, that is impossible. Therefore, being saved without Christ is....impossible!
Furthermore; Paul does not want people to put on the outward signs of religion. In this case it is becoming Jewish, making yourself different physically. It could be something more contemporary; wearing Jesus Fish or crosses, cross tattoos, or any other physical and outward symbol of religion. Jewelry and t-shirts do not save us or our friends. Jesus’s grace and love in our hearts is what is necessary for a life with Jesus.
Prayer- Lord, Help me remember that it is the markings inside my body that separate me from the un-saved. Help me do all I can to put those markings in others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Hagar and Sarah
21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."[
28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."[
b] 31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Galatians 4:27 Isaiah 54:1
Galatians 4:30 Gen. 21:10
Again, it is nice to have a foundation from Genesis before you study the rest of the Bible .For those who did not read the devotions from Genesis that were before these, go back into the archives and read them.
Paul uses the story of Hagar and Sarah as an allegory of what is going on in the Galatian church. Hagar bore Abraham a son enslaved by the law, (Ishmael,) but Sarah’s child (Isaac) was born due to special covenant with God, and was to inherit his father’s blessings.
By being tied to the laws, people will be like Ishmael, and be left behind. God gave us his son to make us free, why would we want to go back to bondage?
Prayer- Lord, Thank You for giving us the freedom to worship you and receive Your love and grace. Give us the strength and wisdom to spread that freedom to others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.